Iconic Vancouver store Benny's Market turns 100
An iconic Vancouver store marked a major milestone Sunday.
Benny's Market is a fixture in the Strathcona neighbourhood, known for its Italian treats and deli sandwiches.
"We are celebrating 100 years in business, in the family. My grandfather opened it up in 1919,” said Ramon Benedetti Jr., the son of the owner.
Alfonso Benedetti, or "Benny" as the locals called him, immigrated from Italy in 1909. He used his winnings from a card game to open an ice cream parlour.
“When my Father came into the business he started importing products from Italy,” explained Benedetti Jr.
Ramon Benedetti Sr. ran a wholesale business out of the store as well as a deli. His magnetic personality and sense of humor kept customers coming back. He lost his legs to an infection a few years ago, but that didn't slow the 90-year-old down.
"He was here up until three weeks before he passed,” said his son.
His absence at the centennial celebrations weighed heavy on the hearts of his loved ones.
"It's kind of for him, that we're doing this,” said an emotional Benedetti Jr.
"It is going to be tough to not have him here. That was my wish is to have him be a part of this lovely celebration,” said Janet Benedetti, the owner’s daughter-in-law.
Neighbours say his love for the community is still felt there.
"The fact that they have this commitment to the neighbourhood and to the community and to their business, this strong family tradition that they have is really wonderful to see,” said James Johnston, a local historian.
Johnston believes that's what has prevented big box stores from pushing them out.
"It's an amazing feat to think that they have not moved or closed their business or whatever and it's a much-loved local store,” the historian said.
"Benny's is such a big part of this Strathcona Community. I hope they never leave,” said Claire Knight, a regular customer.
"It's going to stay open until, as far as I'm concerned, until I can't do it anymore,” said Benedetti Jr.
No matter what happens, he believes the store's legacy will live on because of his dad, a man who made his mark through hard work, generosity, and a love of family.